A gentle breeze blew her hair across her face, tickling her nose and cheek.
Cameron smiled at the sensation and kept her eyes closed as she listened to the crashing of the waves. She could feel the cold sand beneath her and knew it to be night. They had slept undisturbed for many hours, it seemed. Cameron reached out to touch John, who she knew to be lying inches away. But her hand closed on nothing but sand.
Her eyes snapped open and widened in confusion at John's absence. Cameron sat up and looked around, but aside from her, the beach was unoccupied. She got to her feet and switched her vision to infra-red, but still found no sign of John. She turned her attention to the waves and felt her metaphorical heart stop; what if he went swimming and got pulled out to sea? No, she told herself, John would not be so stupid to swim in the dark, and even if he did, he would call out for me if something went wrong.
A chilly breeze caused her skin to crawl and Cameron suddenly realised she wasn't wearing any clothes. She found that odd, seeing as Cameron specifically remembered wearing a bikini before she went into standby. Cameron considered her options and decided to go back home, maybe John was waiting for her there, though she wondered why he would abandon her in the first place.
Cameron managed to steal some clothes from an abandoned store and made her way back to the Connor residence, every step making less and less sense. The streets were empty and rubbish littered the road and pavements. Bins burned and benches were smashed to splinters, houses were boarded up and stores were stripped of their products. Every now and then, Cameron would detect a presence out of the corner of her eye, but whenever she tried to get a good look, the presence would melt into the shadows.
She finally reached the Connor residence and gave a gasp of surprise: the house was completely desolate. All of the windows were smashed and the front door had been kicked in, the surrounding garden was a total mess, with weeds and thistles slowly engulfing the building. Cameron slowly entered her home and discovered it to be no better on the inside. The wallpaper was peeling off and most, if not all, of the furniture had been destroyed. She spotted several bullet holes in the walls and door frames; something terrible had happened here.
She slowly approached John's room, fearing the worst. It was empty, and bare. It held none of the warmth she remembered; even the bed was nothing more than a torn and dirty mattress. Cameron lowered herself onto the bed and closed her eyes; she had to figure this out, but that wasn't going to be easy. It was like something had swept through the city and changed it all overnight. John was gone, his room was stripped, and the air was cold, despite the fact that just three hours ago she was caught in one the hottest heat waves to ever strike Los Angeles.
The sound of creaking floorboards caught her attention and she quietly crept out of the room to investigate. There was a man in the wrecked living room, his back to her; he seemed to be examining the mess in front of him.
"What are you doing here?"
The man spun around and pointed a gun at her; she had clearly scared the life out of him, his face was hidden in shadow. He just stood there, pistol pointed at her head. Slowly, his hands began to shake and he spoke in an all-too-familiar voice.
"No, that's impossible."
Cameron took a step forwards, her apprehension towards the man having melted upon hearing his voice.
Derek also took a step forwards, his face revealed by a beam of moonlight. He looked like he'd seen a ghost; disbelief lined every feature.
"It can't be you… It can't."
Cameron was confused; couldn't he see her clearly enough?
"It is me… Cameron. Why don't you recognise me?"
"I must be going mad, God it's finally happened; my sanity's taken a long walk."
Cameron gave him a tiny poke to show she wasn't a figment of his imagination. Derek slowly lowered his gun and shook his head, still unable to fully grasp what he was seeing; she looked no different than the day she…
"Derek, what has happened here? Where is John? Where are Sarah and Ethan?"
"You really don't know, do you?"
Cameron tilted her head quizzically.
"Three years ago, whilst you and John were on a beach, you suddenly disappeared, never to be seen again."
Cameron's jaw dropped in surprise; she couldn't believe what she was hearing. But then it all made sense; John's absence, her lack of clothes, the change in the city. She had somehow travelled forward to 2011, leaving John and everyone else behind. She felt hot tears run down her face as she imagined how distraught John must have been when she disappeared.
"Please tell me it's not true…"
Chapter One: Here One Moment…
"You ever wonder what life will be like in two years time, or three, or even four?"
John rolled onto his side, keeping his head within the shade of the umbrella. His legs were slowly being roasted by the summer heat, a heat that had swept through the whole of California, forcing thousands of people to invest money in the latest air conditioning systems. John, on the other hand, had decided upon a different course of action. He had convinced his beloved Terminator to put on her finest and accompany him to the beach.
She laid, half in shade, half in the sun, upon a towel, mere inches away from him. Cameron wore a red bikini; her silky skin exposed to the harsh sun, yet somehow remained impervious to its blaze. John's eyes lingered on her toes, which she had painted red, and travelled up her perfect legs to her curved hips. His gaze then slowly drifted up her smooth abdomen to her beautiful mounds. John's eyes lingered here for a moment more before moving on to her elegant neck and, finally, her angelic face.
She opened her eyes and gazed into his, her lips parting slightly as she processed a response to his query.
"In four years time, Skynet will have become self-aware and Judgment Day would be upon us. All of this will be gone."
Cameron raised her head slightly to scan the beach and the many people there. She could not help but feel a little remorse at the thought of losing this beautiful landscape. It was such a waste. Cameron was suddenly filled with bitterness towards her creator, and was surprised by the intensity of it. Personally, Cameron always rather pitied Skynet and often wondered how things would be different if its primary directive was not based
around warfare and violence. Could it learn to understand the things she had experienced? Could it understand love?
A welcome breeze blew Cameron's hair into her face and mouth, John reached over and brushed the strands aside, gently caressing her cheek in the process. Cameron leaned into his touch and smiled softly. John continued to stroke her face, his eyes set with affection as he watched her contentment. This was why he brought her out here; for the peace and the beauty of the world.
He leaned over and placed his lips upon hers briefly before whispering softly in her ear.
"Let's go for a swim."
"I told you before: stay away from us. We'll only bring death to your life."
Sarah made to close the door but Charley held it open with a firm hand.
"And I told you; it's not gonna happen. You really think I'm just gonna abandon you and John to fight this thing alone?"
Sarah let out a sigh of frustration; why couldn't he just listen?
"You can't help us. Just take your wife and leave. Leave now before you get yourself killed."
Charley gave the door a solid kick, causing Sarah to jump back in surprise.
"I can't do that. My wife left me. She left me, because I told her about you and the future. She said you were crazy, and that I was even crazier to believe you in the first place. We argued about it and she left. So no; I don't have anything else in my life. Just you and John, and I'll be damned before I see you two slip away from me as well."
"This is not a good idea."
"C'mon, it'll be fun."
John was waist deep in the sea, waiting patiently for Cameron, who was standing nervously on the beach. No doubt it would be fun, but she feared what would happen if she got too deep; Terminators are not known for their buoyancy.
"What if I sink or get stuck? You won't be able to pull me loose."
John chuckled, his laughter drowned by the crashing of the waves.
"You won't. Trust me, okay."
He held out his hand for hers and she felt her legs moving into the salty water, which slowly engulfed her body, splashing around her navel. She took John's hand and felt her feet sink a little but not too much. John smiled and gently led her further out until only their shoulders and heads were above the water.
She nodded and traced her hands through the water, finding John's waist a few meters away. Cameron drew him close and they kissed, both tasting the salt on each other's lips. They remained like this for several long moments before John did something rather unexpected: he scooped up her legs and brought them to the
surface. Cameron cried out in surprise and was shocked to find that her head hadn't submerged. Somehow her body had managed to remain afloat; she lay on the water's surface like a bed. She carefully turned her head towards John, afraid that any overt movements would upset her balance.
"You're not terribly heavy, ya know. I can lift you all by myself. Besides, the water allows for a little more ease in that regard. Just lay still and don't make any sudden moves… I've got you."
John held her from beneath, one hand on her back, the other supporting her legs. It was sufficient enough to allow her the sensation of floating. She closed her eyes and marvelled at how relaxing it felt, she smiled and leaned her head back, her hair touching the water.
"How does it feel?"
Cameron kept her eyes closed and let out a small moan of contentment.
"I couldn't say. I've never been to heaven before."
"You want mustard on that?"
"Uh, no thanks, what do I owe you?"
"That'll be a dollar forty-nine."
Derek handed over the money in exchange for the hot dog.
"Keep the change."
The vendor gave a non-verbal response as Derek left the stall and leaned against a nearby wall, taking a bite out of his hot dog. An African-American in a business suit came around the corner and also purchased the sausage snack. Judging by their interaction, Derek deduced that the "suit" and the vendor knew each other.
The "suit" paid for his meal and turned around, spotting Derek a few feet away. Their eyes locked as both recognised the other. Derek froze, his mouth hanging open as he prepared to take a bite. Agent James Ellison also froze, his hot dog held at his side. They continued to eye each other for a few moments before Ellison regained his composure and, dropping the sausage, drew his gun.
Crap, thought Derek, as he also let his dog fall to the floor and bolted into the crowd, Ellison not far behind.
They spent countless hours in the sea; one minute they would be talking, then they would be kissing, then one would playfully splash the other, resulting in a contest to see who would get the most soaked. They were out there for so long that they didn't notice the sun as it slowly began to set. Eventually, however, they returned to the beach and fell, exhausted, onto their towels. John looked around, seeing no one; they were the only people still there.
Cameron bit her lip playfully and gave John a small wink, prompting him to lean over and press their lips together. They held each other close, their hands exploring each other's bodies. John gently slid his hand across her marble belly and beyond. Cameron gasped as pleasure flared throughout her body, causing her mind to race as all her systems presented countless reports of sensory data. She closed her eyes and moaned louder, the waves crashing in time with her ripples of pure ecstasy.
A quick flash of white light, followed by a whooshing sound, was all that heralded the arrival of Skynet's most advanced creation to date. Unlike previous models, this machine possessed no biological covering, and stalked silently towards the sleeping couple. The machine took a moment to analyse them, taking note of their bodily positions, and decided that it needed to move them slightly.
The machine carefully prised the girl away from her mate, careful not to trigger a reboot of her systems. Once she was extricated from the boy, the machine wrapped its mechanical hand around the girl's arm and started the displacement sequence.
John stirred slightly, but did not awaken, never noticing the flash of white light as his lover was stolen from him.